Today is both World Food Day and Blog Action Day. Because of the convergence of these two days blog writers have been challenged to write about food. The Agchat Foundation has gone a step further to challenge those with an agricultural background to blog about where food comes from.
Growing up I spent a lot of time on, in and around farms here in the mid Willamette Valley, Oregon. My grandparents and uncles all farm various types of grass seed. My grandmother will proudly tell anyone who’ll listen that all their pork, beef and lamb starts right there on her farm. Because, you see, grass seed does so much more than plant lawns.
- Both grass hay and straw are used to feed livestock,
- Grass fields are used to winter sheep,
- It is planted in pastures for cattle, and horses to graze on,
- It is used in orchards to control weeds,
- To control erosion and to naturally filter run off,
- Even as “logs” for your fireplace.
Oregon grows up to 70% of the grass seed in the world market. There are about 1,500 farming operations growing grass seed in Oregon. Many of those are going into their 3rd generation of family farmers. Grass seed is Oregon’s 5th largest agricultural crops and drives nearly one billion dollars of economic activity in the state.*
Summer is harvest time for grass in Oregon. I began working on the farm as a teenager, driving seed trucks, combine harvesters, windrowers/swathers, and tractors. My current schedule, working in a school and freelancing, still allows me time drive a combine every harvest. And we buy grass feed beef from the son of the farmer I work for.
One agricultural organization has “Oregon Agriculture, Rooted, Green, Vital” as their motto. I couldn’t agree more. Working on the farm helps me feel rooted to the earth, part of a vital system that provide food for the world, and shows me what true “green” looks like.
*Facts provided by the Oregon seed council http://www.oregonseedcouncil.org/economy/